TUTICORIN: Dental quacks are playing havoc with the oral hygiene of rural people in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu with over 80 of them based in various parts of Tuticorin district and about 200 more in other parts.
According to Dr. C Sivakumar, state secretary of the Indian Dental Association (IDA), fake dentists are ruling the roost in the rural pockets, where awareness on oral hygiene is very poor among the people. He said that a meeting to discuss the problems caused by these quacks was held in Tuticorin, on Sunday. There about 160 registered dentists in Tuticorin and they had identified about 80 quacks, who are having full-fledged clinics in the rural pockets.
“We plan to submit petitions to the state government and also the district administration with all details including the names and addresses of these quacks and if possible even photographs of the so-called dentists with their clinics,” he said.
These ‘dentists’ can be identified by the boards outside their shady clinics, which have the name of the person written in white paint on a black background, whereas a registered dentist of the IDA will have a blue and white board, Sivakumar said.
The members of the IDA have gone about doing their homework to identified the fake dentists in this region and they had come across one person, who was extracting a tooth for as low as Rs 20, whereas in reality, a tooth extraction costs about Rs 1,000. No sterilization, autoclaving or disposable injections are used in these clinics, according to Sivakumar.
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Their boards display the words RIMP, which stands for Registered Indian Medical Practitioners when in reality there is no such degree. These fake dentists are also well versed in the technique of fixing low-cost dentures, where they can give a person a set of about four teeth for as low as Rs 250 when the minimum cost for replacing a single tooth will cost as much as Rs 1,000.
These quacks use acrylic plates for fixing permanent dentures, but acrylic is known to be carcinogenic and highly risky. He said that they also used to the wire on which the acrylic plate with the fixed teeth is suspended to support the dentures. The quacks set up their clinics in some of the most remote places and befriend the people and use their personal relationship, to develop their business as dentists.
Villagers, who lack awareness still think that toothaches are caused by worms and the quacks use this ignorance to their gain. Sivakumar said that they pour a few drops of diluted sulphuric acid on the gums of the patients and when the gums start peeling as a result of the acid treatment, they draw out strings of tissue and claim that they are worms pulled out from the infected tooth. As the acid kills the microorganisms in the infected tooth and gives immediate relief from the toothache, the patient also goes home happy.
The Indian Dental Association wants the government to act immediately against these quacks, failing which they plan to stage protests as the health of the people is at risk.